Renault created the electric van market, and even if Nissan offers an argument that its eNV200 was the game changer, Renault deserves the credit for being pretty much first with an electric van in every sector. It is, though, the electric Renault Kangoo that has been its greatest success. 

Hot on the heels of a rebrand from the ZE name to its new E-Tech label, and ten years on from its launch, the small EV is undergoing an upgrade. It is an upgrade that is sorely needed, not least because of its new rivals in the shape of the Citroën e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Partner and Vauxhall Combo-e that are primed and ready to steal away market share.

The new Renault Kangoo E-Tech builds on the ZE legacy and improves it with more power and better batteries, but that is something the ZE did anyway, as Renault periodically added drivetrain upgrades from its Zoe car into the van. While the 121hp electric motor is new for the Kangoo E-Tech it is the van itself that is arguably the biggest improvement to what was an ageing product. 

Using the same body as the revised Renault Kangoo unveiled last year, but yet to go on sale in the UK, the Kangoo E-Tech is wider and more useful than its predecessor. It will be available with a choice of two wheelbase lengths, giving the standard van a loadspace measuring 3.9m3 and the long-wheelbase model up to 4.9m3 of capacity. Payload for regular vans will be up to 600kg while the Maxi versions can carry up to 800kg due to a higher-plated gross vehicle weight. It will also have a 1,500kg towing capacity – a new addition to the electric Kangoo and something that has, until recently, remained conspicuously absent from the abilities of many electric vans.

The new platform represents a big upgrade in volume from the 3.0m3 and 4.0m3 that the short- and long-wheelbase ZE models respectively had.

Bigger still is the upgrade in power, taking the paltry 44kW motor of the ZE and upgrading the E-Tech with a 90kW motor. The batteries have also got bigger with 45kWh capacity rather than the 33kWh in the outgoing van. That means range for the E-Tech is claimed to be up to 186 miles. 

Charging for the batteries can be done using an 80kW DC rapid charger that will allow up to 106 miles of range to be added in around 30 minutes. There is also the option of a slower 22kW charge as well as standard three-phase and single-phase charging, with
a full charge from a 7kW wallbox said to take six hours. 

Because the diesel and electric vans share the same platform, the electric Kangoo gets almost exactly the same equipment as the diesel model. While final UK spec has not been confirmed yet, and our drive was in a European final phase prototype, the E-Tech will
be available with the roof-mounted easy inside rack storage option that allows items up to 2.5m long to be carried off the ground. Like the diesel model, British versions of the EV will not get the open sesame pillarless sliding door, which lets you load items up to 3.0m in through the side door. UK models will get a folding partition bulkhead though, which adds an additional 0.5m3 of load volume and means that those longer lengths of wood or pipe can still be transported via the rear doors.

The cabin, however, will be largely the same with an 8in infotainment system being the centrepiece of the new interior. Other highlights include a folding centre seat that doubles as a mobile office space, which might not sound like much, but as the Kangoo was previously only available with a single passenger seat it is an important upgrade for those that need to travel with three in the front. 

Features like adaptive cruise control will also be available, and as is common with most electric vehicles, expect a range of heated options (most likely as standard) including a heated windscreen, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.


Sadly, a heat pump system for cabin preconditioning will be an optional extra, but when paired with the 22kW charger it can heat the cabin without using an electrical resistor that consumes energy. Instead, it takes heat from the surrounding air and is said to be most efficient when the ambient temperature is between -15°C and 15°C, which
just so happens to be a pretty common range for the colder months in most European countries.

As with the diesel model, comparing the electric van’s interior with the old model is like comparing night with day as the increased dimensions of the van correlate to a great deal more space for your elbows and knees. The cabin is more spacious and better for it, and with comfortable seats, a fully-adjustable steering wheel and the easy link multimedia system, there is so much more to like about the new E-Tech, not least the prospect of a new sport trim level that will feature on the diesel model and may well get a look in on the electric van price list.

The main difference between diesel and electric is, of course, in the driving and it is more good news here. The diesel model is already a huge step up from the previous generation, being far quieter and more refined, but with an electric drivetrain the improvement is even more noticeable.

The cabin is well insulated from road and motor noise. There is also very little in the way of wind noise to be heard either. It is a really refined and enjoyable van to be in, which is not something that can always be said of an EV.

A 90kW motor is a huge step up in power for the Kangoo E-Tech, being more than double the old model, but such is the advancement and expectation of modern drivers that it does not feel over the top, equating to 121hp, which – although at the higher end of the spectrum for a small van – is not excessive, but it is quick. The delivery is instant and effortless, which is similar to the highly responsive steering that gives you loads of feedback and makes you want to chunk the little van around far more than you should. 

The Renault Kangoo and its Mercedes-Benz Citan sibling have already bagged the International Van of the Year award, but as an electric model the Renault Kangoo E-Tech feels even more accomplished. 

There are three levels of regenerative braking, with the middle setting providing a substantial but not jarring level of braking, whereas the most severe does make backing off the throttle too quickly a bit jolting. There is also an eco drive mode to maximise range. This stifled power gives burying the throttle less of an impact, and with so much more power than the previous model, if you are upgrading your fleet you would be well advised to make it the default setting when the vehicle is turned on. 

The final significant upgrade is that of the safety systems. There are now an impressive 20 ADAS features available on the E-Tech and these include cruise control with speed limiter, distance warning, assisted parking and all-round parking sensors, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning and blind spot warning to name but a few. 

The improvements between the old Renault Kangoo electric van and the new version are nothing short of phenomenal. That is a big word to use, but after setting a pace at launch that no other manufacturer was interested in keeping up with, this latest electric Kangoo has once again sprinted to the front in what is fast becoming a very competitive race.

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